A team of biologists have saved two native plants from the brink of extinction at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The biologists successfully reintroduced 1,000 Pele lobeliad and 21,000 Kau silversword plants into the park after 20 years of rehabilitation efforts.
They described the work in a recent issue of the journal "Biological Conservation."
“The team used technical rope systems to produce cuttings from Pele lobeliads in the rainforest canopy, flew by helicopter to remote volcanic slopes to rescue Kau silverswords, and worked long hours in the field and greenhouses to save them,” Hawaii Volcanoes National Park botanist Sierra McDaniel said, in a news release.
“It’s impossible to describe the joy we feel to see these plants thrive in the wild again.”
The Pele lobeliad nearly disappeared forever, with only five remnant plants known in the wild.
Although the work is not done, the Kau silversword has already self-reproduced. Experts say it’s a good sign for future growth of the Hawaiian plants.
“Daunting challenges remain,” said Rob Robichaux, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona and coordinator of the recovery efforts. “Yet the story of the Kau silversword and Pele lobeliad offers hope for a brighter future in which the landscapes of Hawaii are once again replenished with its many native plant species, which are true marvels of evolution.”